Listen. I’m not a doctor. I don’t even play one on tv. But I wanna talk about Coronavirus even though I’m not even slightly qualified. You may also know it as the Wuhan virus. (Is it just me, or is anyone else compelled to chant “shark bait! Wu-ha-han!” like Nemo’s friends gathered around a volcano?)
As of this writing, there have been about 6,100 cases of this virus worldwide. Approximately 6,000 of them have been in China. The global death toll stands at 132. Pretty scary stuff, right?
But the total number of confirmed cases in the US is five. 1, 2, 3, 4, FIVE. We’ve (thankfully) had a whopping zero deaths and I hope it stays that way.
So then why is everyone freaking the eff out over this coronavirus? It’s Wuhan virus this, coronavirus that. It’s on the news all day, errry day. We’re on Wuhan Watch 2020. We’re screening incoming passengers at 15 different international airports. We are not about to let coronavirus just waltz in here and make itself at home. We are mad as hell and not gonna take it.
To be clear, I am in no way downplaying this severity of this virus. I do know it’s a real danger to the world. It is sure as shit not welcome here. China, I will happily receive your cell phones, running shoes and Claire’s jewelry, but you can keep your weird snake market virus to yourself.
This whole thing kinda reminds me of that time we were all on Ebola Watch of 2016 when there were 11 patients with Ebola in the US. We were all scrambling for the exits. Like “oh hellll nah get these peeps out of here! We could die! Find us a vaccine!!” Ebola killed two people here. Two.
What if I were to tell you there is another extremely dangerous and highly contagious virus sweeping the United States? That so far, this year alone, somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 million people have been infected with it. People, that’s a one and a five followed by SIX zeroes. Approximately 8,500 people have died from it already and that number will multiply before the season is over. Last year that final number was somewhere in the neighborhood of 60,000. Are you panicking yet? Ready to Amazon Prime yourself a box of surgical masks? Want people to be screened before being allowed to sneeze into large crowds? Wondering how the hell you can avoid this plague and what the hell it is?
It’s influenza. THE FLU IS PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER ONE. Well, number 8 actually. It’s the 8th leading cause of death in the United States. It’s just below diabetes and just above kidney disease and suicide which round out the top ten.
So, to compare: Zero deaths from the front-page Wuhan virus. Two from Ebola. 8,500 so far this year from the flu. (Around 55,000 died from flu the year of the Ebola debacle).
Would people take it more seriously with an exotic name like Fluhan virus? Or maybe Michelobvirus? Apparently so.
The flu is NO JOKE people. I can’t wrap my mind around the lackadaisical attitude surrounding the flu and it’s vaccine. It kills a lot of people. It even sometimes kills otherwise perfectly healthy people. I mean, if only there was a way to prevent some of those deaths…
Oh wait…there is. But a lot of people don’t believe in certain brands of science. I imagine a lot of them would probably come around real quick in the unfortunate event they were hospitalized for flu and needed life saving medications and/or treatment from “Big Pharma,” but don’t even get me started on that.
The flu definitely does not have the street cred it deserves. We should be treating it like the serious virus it is. Need pointers? Well it’s your lucky day. I’m full of pro tips. The first of which is to get a damn flu shot. Duh. But if you happen to get sick, you should follow these simple rules:
KEEP YOUR SICK KIDS HOME.
Don’t go to school/work.
Don’t go on vacation.
Don’t go to Chuck E. Cheese (actually I recommend steering clear of Chuck E. Cheese at any time).
Don’t go to sporting events.
Don’t go to family gatherings.
Don’t go to performances.
Don’t go to conventions.
Don’t use public transit.
But see, here’s where it gets seems to get a little tricky for people. Don’t go EVEN IF:
You need to save your PTO for your upcoming cruise.
Your kid has a big game.
You have no babysitter.
You think you’re needed at a meeting.
Your kid has field day at school.
You made plans to travel to Dollywood.
You have tickets to a good show.
Your kid has a big test.
You have annual passes to Disneyworld that are about to expire.
None of these things are more important than keeping your flu to yourself, no matter how extenuating you think your circumstances are. If you wouldn’t do it if you came home from a Wuhanian vacation with coronavirus, then you shouldn’t do it if you have the boring old flu.
I get it. It’s inconvenient. Easy for me to say since I’m a stay at home mom and all that jazz. But do you want to be responsible for giving a person a deadly flu virus just because you got Celine Dion tickets via pre-sale for your birthday and you already had t shirts made? For some people with the flu, their hearts won’t go on. Lit-er-a-lly.
My very unscientific opinion is that flu is a much greater threat to Americans at this time. I’m all for remaining vigilant for the Wuhan virus. It is a precarious situation, no doubt. But the flu is the OG virus. Don’t let it fool you. It’s much more of a threat to you and me than the Wu ha-han, at least for now.
But like I said, there are no medical degrees hanging on my wall. They don’t sell those at Hobby Lobby. 🤷🏻♀️
(PS-AS GOD AS MY WITNESS…if the Wuhan virus shows up in Florida and my sister bails on this race she dragged me into, I will unleash on China (and my sister) the fury of a woman who has agonized step by step on multiple long training runs for which her 43 years old hips are not equipped. I will be seeking monetary compensation for this pain and suffering with the assistance of 1-800-ASK-GARY. Consider yourselves warned).